Thursday, November 4, 2010

Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month

The inspiration for this blog post comes from a collection on Artfire.  A pair of my earrings are in this collection promoting Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month.  I admit, I do not know very much about pancreatic cancer.  The only things that some to mind when I think about pancreatic cancer are that the patients don't live very long and Patrick Swayze.  So, I decided to do a little research. 

Pancreatic cancer is widely understudied and underfunded. 

The pancreas aids in digestion and helps regulate the metabolism of sugars.  Because it spreads rapidly, pancreatic cancer often has a poor prognosis.  Pancreatic cancer is a leading cause of cancer death.  Fewer than 5% of those diagnosed with this type of cancer will still be alive in 5 years.  Here are some very interesting facts I found:

I copied the information below from

•An estimated 43,140 Americans will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in the U.S., and over 36,800 will die from the disease.

•Pancreatic cancer is one of the few cancers for which survival has not improved substantially over nearly 40 years.

•Pancreatic cancer is the 4th leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States.

•Pancreatic cancer has the highest mortality rate of all major cancers. 94% of pancreatic cancer patients will die within five years of diagnosis – only 6% will survive more than five years. 75% of patients die within the first year of diagnosis.

•The average life expectancy after diagnosis with metastatic disease is just three to six months.

•Few risk factors for developing pancreatic cancer are defined. Family history of the disease, smoking, age, and diabetes are risk factors.

•Pancreatic cancer may cause only vague symptoms that could indicate many different conditions within the abdomen or gastrointestinal tract.

•Symptoms include pain (usually abdominal or back pain), weight loss, jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes), loss of appetite, nausea, changes in stool, and diabetes.

•Treatment options for pancreatic cancer are limited. Surgical removal of the tumor is possible in only approximately 15% of patients diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Chemotherapy or chemotherapy together with radiation is typically offered to patients whose tumors cannot be removed surgically. Only three drugs are FDA‐approved for the treatment of pancreatic cancer: fluorouracil (5‐FU), gemcitabine (Gemzar®), and erlotinib (Tarceva®).

•Pancreatic cancer is a leading cause of cancer death largely because there are no detection tools to diagnose the disease in its early stages when surgical removal of the tumor is still possible.

•The National Cancer Institute (NCI) spent an estimated $89.4 million on pancreatic cancer research in 2009. This represented a mere 2% of the NCI’s approximate $5 billion cancer research budget for that year.

Source for statistics: American Cancer Society: Cancer Facts & Figures 2010 and NCI Funded Research Portfolio.

This is a very scary disease.  One I hope never to have personal experience with.  Spread the word and lets help further the research so we can beat this thing!


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